If you are considering filing for guardianship in Texas of an elderly parent or other incapacitated adult, it is important you understand the responsibilities of a Guardian of the Person. Understanding the legal responsibilities and limitations of a guardian can also help you better determine if a loved one’s appointed guardian is properly fulfilling those duties. In either case, consider consulting a guardianship attorney for advice before making the decision to proceed in Court.

What is a Guardian of the Person – What Does it Mean?

The Guardian of the Person is someone appointed by a Court of Law to make personal, medical, and welfare decisions for a Ward. The Ward in a guardianship case is usually an elderly parent or other incapacitated adult, although the term also applies to minor children without a parent to make personal welfare decisions for them.

Because a minor child or person who is declared legally incapacitated, whether due to a physical or mental condition, is unable to properly care for him or herself, the Court establishes a relationship between the Ward and guardian, a person or entity named by the Court to care for the Ward. In some cases, the same individual(s) will serve as both Guardian of the Person and Guardian of the Estate, the guardian who makes financial decisions and controls the Ward’s assets.

Guardianship Responsibilities: What Does a Guardian of an Adult Do?

A Guardian of the Person is responsible for providing personal care for the Ward, similar to the duties of a parent to a child. While the Court decides how much control a guardian has over an adult Ward, the guardian’s duties basically involve ensuring the Ward’s medical and daily living needs are properly met. 

With full guardianship of an adult, you will be responsible for making personal decisions for the Ward, limited only by the Court. This can involve everything from deciding where the Ward will live and when medical treatment is needed to who the Ward can spend time with, including family and friends. 

It is your duty as Guardian of the Person to care for, supervise and protect the Ward from harm. You will be required to report to the Court the condition of the Ward annually, or more frequently as the Court orders.

Guardian of the Person Duties Outlined in Texas Estates Codes 

According to the Texas Estates Code, Chapter 1151, the duties of the Guardian of the Person correspond with the rights of the guardian:  

1. The right to have physical possession of the ward and to establish the ward's legal domicile

2. The duty to provide care, supervision, and protection for the ward

3. The duty to provide the ward with clothing, food, medical care, and shelter

4. The power to consent to medical, psychiatric, and surgical treatment other than the inpatient psychiatric commitment of the ward 

(See the Texas Estates Code, Sec. 1151.051 for additional Guardian of the Person duties.)

Limitations in Adult Guardianship

While a Guardian of the Person is responsible for ensuring the Ward’s daily needs are met, a guardian is not required to be with the Ward 24 hours of every day. Guardians should seek a balance between allowing adult Wards to live their own lives as much as possible while overseeing those lives and protecting the Wards from harm. Read about the limitations of guardianship.

Contesting Guardianship: Disputes & Removal of a Guardian

Many guardianship cases involving litigation arise due to disputes over who should serve as the guardian of a loved one. In other cases, interested persons petition the court for removal of an appointed guardian (see reasons for removal of a guardian) or request the guardian be forced to meet his or her duties. 

Whether filing for legal guardianship or contesting an appointed guardian, the issues involved in these types of cases are very complex and can significantly impact the lives of all parties. Many attorneys do not have the experience needed to fully understand all of them, which is why if you are considering legal action, you should consult a guardianship attorney who does have that necessary experience. 

Contact a Guardianship Attorney at Ford + Bergner

Ford + Bergner attorneys devote their practices to areas of law involving estate, probate and guardianship law, making them experts in those chosen areas. If you or a loved one needs a guardianship attorney, we encourage you to contact us now to discuss your case.